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Gaming machine arcades are regulated according to the Gambling Act 2005

There are three types of arcades under the Gambling Act 2005:

  1. adult gaming centres (AGCs)
  2. licensed family entertainment centres (FECs) and,
  3. unlicensed family entertainment centres (uFECs).

uFECs are often referred to as family entertainment centre gaming machine permits or category D gaming machine permits.

Adult gaming centres are allowed to offer category B3 or B4 gaming machines and as many category C and D machines as they wish. The maximum number of B3 or B4 machines permitted in new licensed arcades is up to 20% of the total number of machines made available. If there are 50 category C and D then there can be 10 category B3 or B4. No under 18s are permitted into adult gaming centres. To operate an adult gaming centre you must hold an adult gaming centre operating licence and you may require personal licences from the Gambling Commission and then apply to the local authority for a premises licence.

A licensed family entertainment centre is an arcade where children are permitted and which can offer unlimited category C and D gaming machines. The category C machines must be segregated into an adult only area of the arcade so that children do not gain access.

To apply for a licensed family entertainment centre you must hold an FEC operating licence and the requisite personal licences and then apply to the local licensing authority for a premises licence.

Unlicensed family entertainment centre gaming machine permits permit unlimited numbers of category D gaming machines, for instance cranes and pushers, and are premises where children are allowed.

Operating licences and personal licences are not necessary to hold a uFEC permit and the application is made to the local authority where the premises are located. uFEC permits cover designated arcade areas that are wholly or mainly used for making machines available and operators must implement policies and procedures to ensure adequate supervision is maintained.

For more information about the laws surrounding gaming machines, arcades or gambling in general, contact licensing solicitor and head of the department, Nick Arron.

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